Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Wrangell to Victoria BC

After a couple of great nights in Wrangell, we again boarded a ferry for a 15 hour trip out of Alaska to Prince Rupert BC. The unfortunate part of that journey was a 1:45am arrival at PR, where we had to clear customs and then find someplace to camp for the remainder of the night. We got lucky in that the first provincial campground outside of town did not close the gate at 11pm as the Milepost indicated. We found a spot, and got a few hours of sleep. In the morning, we found that the propane tank on the van was out after 19 days, and our fridge was quickly warming up. Most importantly, Rebecca could not make her morning coffee, so we were in full crisis mode. We made a quick trip back into Prince Rupert for propane, and some Tim Horton's coffee & breakfast sandwiches. All was again good in the world...we were off toward Prince George. 

After some haircuts and shopping in the big city of Prince George, we camped at a provincial campground with a nice lake. Meghan and I took advantage for a morning dip..refreshing!

We worked our way down to Whistler where we checked out our 2nd Olympic host city of the trip. Great place that looks like a nice resort city and would have been lots of fun during the games.  Of course, the official host city was Vancouver, but Whistler was home to the mountain events. 

The Olympic cauldron.

An amazing rooftop tree in Vancouver!

We took a day in Vancouver and explored Stanley Park and saw the rose and other gardens, beach area, and took a long walk around part of the park. We then went to Chinatown for a meal and some exploring. I think that Meghan was a little scared by the smells and some of the fish and dead animals in the markets. We also went to Granville Island and picked up some gifts in the public market and enjoyed the ambiance and chaos. 
From there, we caught the ferry to Vancouver Island and arrived too late for a campground. After a bit of driving toward our destination of Tofino, we "bootlegged" a camp on a beach. Clearly illegal, but we really didn't have a choice. We cleared out pretty early and got back on the road to Tofino. 

Still chilly on the beach headed for Tofino, but beach time is beach time!

The beach had several structures built for shelter that looked like fun to hang out in, so we did.

Some folks we met on the ferry to Wrangell told us we had to go to Tofino, that we'd love it there. They didn't say why. Turns out, there were lots of VW vans of various vintages all over the area! Byron felt very at home, and we got lots of the vibe like Byron Bay in Australia...Byron's namesake.

The walkway to one of the beaches in Pacific Rim NP.

The water is pretty cold up there, and Willow still didn't think much of the waves.

Meghan built her own version of the structure we saw on the beach!

And Willow enjoyed the warm sun and sand.
We spent the day exploring the beaches south of Tofino that were all part of Pacific Rim National Park. Beautiful coastal forests give way to sandy beaches with lots of driftwood, hermit crabs, surf waves, and very few people.
Surf Junction campground made use of old car tires as shingles for their shop building. While not the most attractive thing I've seen, they get an A+ for re-use!

Lighthouse at Ucluelet.

Meghan 'inside' a big Douglas fir tree.

Cathedral Grove is pretty near to the center of Vancouver Island on the way to/from Tofino and houses some of the worlds largest Douglas firs. It felt very much like being among the big redwoods in northern California.
Yep, that's GOATS on the grass roof near the Coombs

Our GPS sent us on quite a 'scenic' route to the Butchart Gardens in Victoria. It wasn't quite 'Top of the World Highway' caliber (see earlier post), but it was quite a narrow winding road. When we arrived, the staff were amazed that it sent us that way, for the easy route was right off the highway.
Oh well, it was an amazing visit, as you can see from the photos above...All taken by Meghan, who took over camera duties for the visit. Nice work!

Victoria was out last stop in Canada before catching a ferry the next morning to Port Angeles, WA. Sadly, the ferry schedule did not allow us to explore the city. It gives us a great excuse to come back, for we have a feeling there's lots more great stuff to see all over Vancouver Island.

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